Senior Toronto cop ‘almost fell over’ after allegedly impaired Hwy. 401 crash

A high-ranking Toronto police officer who once headed the force’s police disciplinary tribunal was driving a police-issued SUV on Highway 401 with an open bottle of Appleton Estate Rum underneath the driver’s seat, then “almost fell over” at the scene of a crash , newly released police documents allege.

Supt. Riyaz Hussein made his first appearance before the Toronto police misconduct court Monday, sitting not as the hearing officer but as a cop accused of two counts of discreditable conduct.

Appearing virtually, said Hussein little except to confirm his presence at a brief hearing before Robin McElary-Downer, a retired South Simcoe Police deputy chief brought in to fill the role of hearing officer, vacated by Hussein himself.

The tribunal appearance comes six months after Hussein was charged with impaired driving, careless driving and having open liquor while driving following a two-car collision on the 401. At the time, the OPP said the arrest was made after a rear driver ended a delivery truck near Pickering.

Police documents outlining the allegations against Hussein provide new details about what allegedly happened on the evening of Jan. 13, 2022. The allegations have not been proven at the tribunal and the case is on hold pending Hussein’s criminal case.

According to the documents, Hussein was on Hwy. 401 near Pickering’s Liverpool Road, driving a black Toronto police SUV, when he struck another vehicle driving in the same direction and his car came to a stop on the shoulder off the highway.

OPP officers from the Whitby detachment came to the scene. One watched Hussein as he was leaving an ambulance after being assessed for minor injuries, and soon “formed the suspicion” that Hussein had been drinking alcohol, the documents say.

“The investigating OPP officer observed that you were unsteady on your feet and that you almost fell over,” according to the documents.

Within a few minutes, Hussein failed a roadside breath test, the documents allege. Hussein was later taken to the Ajax-Pickering hospital, where the senior officer twice registered a breath sample above the legal limit, according to the documents.

A search of the police vehicle Hussein was driving — a 2021 Ford Edge — revealed an open bottle of Appleton Estate Rum from under the driver’s seat, as well as a sealed bottle of the same brand of rum “from the floor of the front passenger compartment ,” the police documents say.

“In so doing, you committed misconduct in that you did act in a disorderly manner or in a prejudicial manner to discipline or likely to bring discredit upon the reputation of the Toronto Police Service,” the documents say of the criminal charges Hussein now faces.

Until January, Hussein was the senior officer in charge of the Toronto police disciplinary tribunal, serving as the de facto judge in scores of police misconduct cases and deciding the fates of his colleagues.

He was suspended with pay from the Toronto police but returned to duty on Feb. 14, a police spokesperson said Monday. In Ontario, police officers can only be suspended without pay if they are convicted of a crime and sentenced to jail time.

The Toronto disciplinary hearings office is a quasi-judicial tribunal that oversees professional misconduct by officers under Ontario’s Police Services Act. The hearing officer, typically a superintendent who represents the chief, decides whether to find officers guilty of misconduct and what penalties they will face.

Many cases heard at the court stem from criminal offences, such as impaired driving.

Hussein was one of two Toronto police superintendents whose disciplinary cases were heard at the court Monday.

The charges involving Supt. Stacy Clarke — who faces seven counts of misconduct, including breach of confidence, discreditable conduct and insubordination — were briefly spoken to, with a lawyer for Clarke asking for more time to await a third-party report connected to the allegations. No further details were provided about the report.

The misconduct charges were laid after Clarke allegedly leaked confidential information to a group of officers competing for a promotion in late 2021 — including sending pictures of interview questions, according to court documents.

Clarke’s case returns to court Sept. 1.

Wendy Gillis is a Toronto-based reporter covering crime and policing for the Star. Reach her by email at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter: @wendygillis

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